William James Dennis, aka Willie D, was arrested last night on charges of wire fraud, acting United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today.
A sealed criminal complaint charging Dennis, 42, a rap music recording artist, with wire fraud stemming from his purported sales of Apple iPhones through a company known as Texas One Wireless was unsealed following Dennis’ arrest last night by FBI agents at Bush International Airport. Dennis was returning from an overseas trip. Dennis is expected to appear before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Houston later today at which time the United States expects to seek Dennis’ continued detention in federal custody without bond pending further criminal proceedings.
According to allegations in the criminal complaint, beginning in September 2008, Dennis, posing as an electronics salesman, used eBay to establish his credibility with international buyers. Once a buyer showed interest, Dennis allegedly directed them outside of eBay to conduct sales via e-mail. Numerous foreign individuals placed orders with Dennis for iPhones and other electronics. Dennis required payment to be electronically transferred to his bank account and once the transaction was confirmed, Dennis would send tracking numbers for packages that were never shipped. When the buyers complained about not receiving their purchases, Dennis allegedly claimed he had filed a complaint with the U.S. Postal Service or hired carrier and that he could not refund their money until he knew where his goods were. Eventually, Dennis would cease communication with the victimized parties. The investigation leading to the filing of federal charges was initiated when a purchaser who did not receive merchandise nor a refund contacted law enforcement authorities.
Wire fraud carries a maximum punishment, upon conviction, of 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. The period of incarceration can be followed by up to five years of supervised release and restitution to the victims may also be ordered.
Willie D was the lead member of a Houston rap group known as the Geto Boys. Between 1989 and 1996, the group recorded a number of hit songs and had some albums that reached gold and or platinum status. In early 2005, the Geto Boys released a reunion album that was written and produced by Dennis. Dennis founded Relentless Music Ventures in 2006 and signed other groups.
The charges against Dennis are the result of an investigation conducted by the Houston Division of the FBI. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sherri L. Zack.